I’ve always been a little afraid of cactus plants. Though inclined to like any vegetation that looks like an alien life form, the very idea of a cactus sends tiny invisible splinters to my fingers. In reality, it’s the cactus that should fear me, since I managed to kill one in college with the reasoning that if it could just survive in the dessert, it would flourish with regular watering. It did not. Read more
Posts tagged ‘Diana Kennedy’
Charged with closing out the summer season, August is a month made up almost entirely of Sunday nights. Starting with a protracted political debate and market free fall then ending with an earthquake/hurricane double punch, August never seems to play fair. Yet when I looked through my accumulated links and clips, I was surprised by how happy I’ve been the last few weeks – taking advantage of the markets, going the long way around to the city, catching up with friends, cooling off in refrigerated movie theaters. Maybe it was the goodbye atmosphere but there was something to fall in love with around every corner. Here are a just a few, starting with… Read more
While my kitchen shelves groan audibly every time they see the familiar Amazon swoosh coming at them, I don’t feel equipped to offer a best cookbooks of the year list. I couldn’t begin to cover all the great books that made my wish list this year. Rather than coming up with one more “best of” selection, I decided to write up a quick list of my favorite releases covering Latin American and Spanish cuisine instead. I thought this would be the only thing they have in common but as jotted them down, a theme emerged – classically trained chefs who are passionate about their region offering traditional recipes with modern innovations – contemporary baroque. It was a good year. Read more
After last November, I promised myself that I would build my own altar for el Dia de los Muertos. Though widely observed in Mexico, I only discovered the holiday a couple of years ago. According to tradition, I should prepare some of the favorite foods of my dearly departed, lay them out in their honor, and wait for their promised return. The problem is that while I do have family living in Mexico that I adore, they are in fact living. I may dedicate an altar to welcome my Cuban grandmother’s spirit, but if she returned to find herself on top of a Mexican altar, I would have a lot of explaining to do. Wondering what I could possibly make to welcome her, I thought of hot chocolate. Read more
I experienced an unexpected interruption in internet and cable service this weekend. It may have been the ominous work-site superstructure ConEd has built outside my window or a Halloween trick gone horribly wrong, but the minutes turned into hours and a service call confirmed that it was not a drill – it was an outage. Relieved to have at least a few information portals closed, I took it as an unplanned vacation, congratulating myself on my ability disconnect (though I did fall asleep with my iPhone under my pillow). The next morning I was ready to plug back in to no avail. This was serious. Vacation over, I wanted my modem back. A few hours later service was restored and the pretty pictures, status updates, and links to links came flooding back in. Eerily quiet a few minutes before, it was like someone had knocked over a beehive. I have to admit I missed the buzzing. Read more
I’ve wanted to make chilaquiles for awhile but was a little overwhelmed by the choices. I love the precision of cooking and there was no set way to go about making these. The tortillas can be fried or baked, topped with chicken, chorizo or eggs, sprinkled queso fresco or Cotija, sauteed or covered on Oaxacan cheese then baked, the sauces can be red or green or mole, the peppers fresh or dried. Elbow deep in books and online recipes, I saw a an opportunity to throw in some staples that I overbuy but under use testing the tips and side notes that the cookbook obsessed pick up and file away. They can be a breakfast or brunch dish, a perfect way to use leftover tortillas, and a sometimes cure for hangovers. A generous dish. With no set path, there was no way to fail. Read more
I’m not used to very much heat in my food. Though most people associate chili peppers with Latin America, food in the Caribbean is more often spicy than hot. While I love having a choice on one menu between caipirinhas and mojitos or lomo saltado and carne asada, trendy pan-Latin restaurants can add to the confusion. Friends insist that chipotle belongs in a Cuban sandwich, and ask me if I had elotes covered in chili powder growing up because they ordered it at Habana Outpost. The answers are complicated. I don’t want chipotle anywhere near my Cubano, but I look forward to my chili covered corn every summer (though not because I had it growing up, but because it’s so good).
While I always feel a little sad to see the weekend slip away, I like the hard reset of Mondays. With new resolutions in place and wanting to have more vegetables, I tried chayotes for the first time. A cross between a squash, cucumber and melon that are available year round, I’d see them in the grocery store but never thought to try them. Consulting Diana Kennedy’s The Art of Mexican Cooking, I julienned and sauteed them with Serrano peppers in safflower oil and cooked them covered till they were al dente, then added a little cilantro and sea alt to taste. An easy preparation for a fresh start.